Entries from February 2016


The only decent song to come out of Presidents Day

Any genius capable of producing “White Christmas”, “Easter Parade”, and “Let’s Start the New Year Right” can be forgiven just about anything, and Irving Berlin needs a little forgiveness for a few of the other songs from Holiday Inn. You can find plenty online about “Abraham” and the whole Lincoln’s Birthday scene from that movie, but even if you, the conscientious 2016 consumer of art, can lay the blackface aside for a while, you can’t help feeling the lyrics and music were phoned in. If this proves anything, it’s that songs that are straight-up “biographical” are hard to write—they only work if you can regularly tie the events of the subject’s life into some lyrical conceit or abstract principle. (This also holds true for songs about Jesus, in my opinion.)

The Washington’s Birthday scene that follows features the song “I Can’t Tell a Lie”, which is probably somewhere way down in the middle of the Berlin catalogue, but still a catchy number and a good showcase for Fred Astaire’s underrated singing voice: